Road Trip Days 10-12: Zion National Park

We left the campground this morning heading to the Southeast Corner of Utah, for Zion National Park. Our route took us on Highway 189 on the east side of Park City. We saw the ski lifts on the Jordanelle side of Deer Valley and passed by the Jordanelle reservoir. This section through the mountains and high desert was very pretty. We eventually linked up with the heavy traffic on I-15 South through the not-so-pretty valley floor. It got scenic again when we turned off the interstate and headed towards the town of Springdale, right at the foot of the Canyon. On arrival, the temperature was 92 degrees, with a forecast 97 degrees for our ride up the canyon tomorrow. Big contrast from the 30-something degrees we woke to at Rockport State Park. We wandered a little way down the main drag, finding the bike shop we will rent from and stopping in a gallery and the Zion Prospector Rock shop. Yes, you can buy rocks. By the pound.

The view from Main Street in Springdale

We got to the bike shop right around opening time and picked up our pedal-assist electric bikes. We figured with the forecasted temps and our plan to do some hiking around it made some sense to have help on the 9 mile road up the canyon from town. I was on a Trek Verve+ with standard mountain bike width tires. Having a peek at the Trek site, it is equipped with a 250W motor and weighs 54 lbs. Miranda was set up with a RadPower (a Seattle company) RadRover super fat tire (26×4″) bike. It weighed a stout 71 lbs, but had a 750W motor, and was clearly faster than the Trek. By the way, the Trek costs twice as much as the RadPower – $2,999 retail vs $1499. If I were in the market for an e-bike (and apparently Miranda now is), I’d be looking at RadPower over Trek, though maybe for a smaller/lighter model. Anyway, the bikes certainly made easy work of the canyon road, though you still do have to pedal. We entered at the pedestrian entrance and then rode up the Pa’rus trail, which keeps bikers and hikers separated from traffic for the Zion-Mt Carmel tunnel.

Riding up the canyon road. The only traffic was the shuttle buses.

The trail went along the river, with bridges crossing over several times. The trail ended and we took the canyon road, which at this point was restricted to the Zion shuttles and vehicles going to the Zion Park Lodge.

No traffic ahead

What a way to experience the park! We rode along the nearly empty road constantly amazed by the majestic canyon walls. We could stop along the side of the road and take in the scene and take pictures whenever we felt like it. We almost felt sorry for the folks that were riding up on the shuttle… we were having a much better experience.

Court of the Patriarchs, named after figures from the Old Testament. From left, Abraham Peak, Isaac Peak, Jacob Peak.

At the top of the canyon is an area called the Temple of Sinawava. The road ends and there is a one mile or so trail called the Riverside walk through the canyon as it narrows. At the end of the Riverside walk, the adventurous types go further into the canyon, but this time in/through the river on a “trail” called the Narrows.

Looking up the narrowing canyon from the Riverside walk

We did not do this, but hundreds of people did… all wearing the same red waterproof boots and carrying wooden walking sticks rented from the many outfitting shops in town. We instead sat on some rocks along the river and Miranda waded in a little way… in spite of the Cyanobacteria warnings that were posted all around.

Looking down the canyon as we approached the Big Bend

We walked back to our bikes and began the easy downhill journey. It was fun to go bombing down the twisting canyon road, and soon we were back to the visitor center. We had a late lunch at the Brewpub just outside the park entrance, and then went back in for another ride, this time only partway up the road. The afternoon sun was high in the sky and it was hot… even if it was, as they say, a dry heat. We got a little bit worried about the charge left in our bike batteries and decided to call it a day. After dropping the bikes off we came back to the campground where Miranda had a little quality time at the pool, and I went off for a long shower.

A panoramic view of one section of the canyon

Tomorrow we are going to take the Zion-Mt Carmel Highway towards Moab. We will need to get an oversize permit for the tunnel, which is a mile long, and completed in 1930. When an oversized vehicle approaches, the rangers stop traffic in both directions to allow the big vehicles through driving down the center of the tunnel. Should be an interesting experience!

Side note on the Zen of driving slowly

As I mentioned in a previous post, the RV is limited to a safe cruising speed of around 65 MPH. And even at that speed, with the cruise control on, the slightest rise in the road causes the poor RV to have paroxysmal downshifts with the engine screaming in vain to maintain the set speed. I can hear some readers (you know who you are) saying “65 is plenty fast”. Folks, the speed limit out here in the wild west is 80 unless there is construction, and then it drops down to 70, for safety’s sake! Normally, this would suit me just fine – some readers may know that my right foot is a bit heavy, and to gain some relief, I tend to rest it on the accelerator pedal. Well I do that in our trusty RV, and nothing much happens besides a screaming engine and whining differential, along with some mildly disturbing shake, rattle and roll. I am not used to lumbering along in the right lane, and I can say with certainty that I have already spent more time driving below the speed limit than in my prior 45 years of (legal) driving. I am hoping that I will eventually get into a zen state about this, kinda like I did with the Nordhavn, watching the world pass by at 8.6 knots. But even so, 8.6 is pretty much hauling ass by Nordhavn standards. Miss Miranda is a slow boat, but it is one of the fastest of the slow. Our RV is slow, and is one of the slowest of the slow. Good thing we are not in a hurry. Of course, the upside in this is getting to spend even more time with Miranda, which is a gift I will always cherish. See ya in the right lane.

5 thoughts on “Road Trip Days 10-12: Zion National Park”

  1. I can’t imagine going 65 in that old RV. Enjoy the zen of the right lane and live to talk about it. I used to play up the Moab Canyon when I was a kid. All so beautiful. Aunt Jan


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